On 31st May, Ryo Horiuchi won the 54th edition of the Taittinger Prize. After several stints working at renowned establishments in France, including for Thierry Marx and Régis Marcon, he recently left Alain Ducasse’s kitchens at Esterre (Tokyo) to become head chef of restaurant Le Jardin in Fukui (situated near the Japanese capital), which is set to open its doors soon. He took the time to answer a few questions for us. 

Can you tell us about the starter and main that enabled you to win the Taittinger Prize? What were your sources of inspiration?

As the chosen theme was beef, I set out to tackle the subject matter in great depth and I ended up going for a combination with beef tongue. The recipe was born from two months of testing various iterations. I wanted to showcase a French dish, but one which everyone could tell had been made by a Japanese person, hence the shiso, chrysanthemum and salted sea urchin. In the end I wrapped it in brioche, a food my wife really likes.
The starter was a combination of things I’d learned to make where I worked previously. I wanted to retain the texture of the spring vegetables and to complement it with a pea and mushroom sauce.
(> Discover the photos of Ryo Horiuchi’s dishes here).

What does the Taittinger Prize mean to you?

It’s a great tribute to my career achievements so far, but it also shows me that the journey is far from over. The next step is just around the corner.

How would you describe your cuisine?

It’s difficult to describe your own cuisine and there’s still a lot to learn. Japan has four distinct and beautiful seasons, just like France. I want to capture the essence of every season and to try out ingredients ad infinitum, really put them to the test. 

It’s not long until you start working as head chef at restaurant Le Jardin. What experience will you offer there?

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work in several great restaurants, but with Le Jardin I’m keen to showcase French cuisine with my very own twist, food which will only be served at Fukui. See for yourself – come and visit Fukui.

>> >> Discover the images from the Prize finale
in photos / as a video

Photo © Philippe Schwentzel – Phil Art Studio